Wondering what to serve with tamales? Don’t worry – I’ve got your whole menu sorted out, with the traditional side dishes and drinks!

A few tamales on a blue oval plate with serving plates on the side.

? Side Dishes For Tamales

It seems like an impossible task right? Making Mexican tamales from scratch starting with homemade masa and red sauce then you still have to worry what to serve them with!? It sound But don’t worry…. I hA lot of the traditional dishes we associate with a Thanksgiving table are designed for and by meat eaters.

And while I can easily fill up on tamales alone, it’s always best to pair them up with a few complementing sides. But what do you eat with tamales besides rice and beans? Let me show you how to eat them like we do in Mexico.

Oh and don’t forget to check out my bonus idea for how to eat tamales for breakfast!

1. Frijoles Puercos

I do have to start with beans as it is the most classic way to eat them with. But these Frijoles Puercos are not your plain type. In Sonora we call them “Frijoles De Fiesta” (party beans) since they’re serve at all events like weddings, quinceañeras, posadas, or any gathering….specially if involves tamales!

Frijoles Puercos or Frijoles De Fiesta
They're refried beans mixed with cooked chorizo, melted cheese and smoky chipotle pepper.
See Recipe
A white bowl with Frijoles Puercos topped with queso fresco

2. Ensalada De Coditos

Ensalada De Coditos is another classic recipe that will be served with tamales. These pasta salad along with beans and tamales, are the perfect trio that you’ll find at most Mexican gatherings.

Ensalada De Coditos in a white bowl and a wood spoon. A small jar with bacon on the background.
Ensalada De Coditos (Mexican Macaroni Salad)
This Ensalada De Coditos is undoubtedly a classic Mexican recipe. Elbow pasta is tossed with creamy textures and dotted with crisp celery, carrots, corn kernels and flavorful peppers.
Get the recipe!

3. Arroz Rojo

There is always room for Mexican Red Rice! This is one of the most common dishes in Mexico.

Easy Mexican Rice
Learn to make my family's Arroz Rojo (Mexican Red Rice) recipe! It's so easy to make and so delicious you'll never want to order take-out Mexican food again. It's the perfect Mexican side dish!
Get the recipe!
A white plate with red rice and a fork with some cilantro garnish

4. Refried Beans

I feel like you cannot go wrong with these beans. The creaminess balances perfectly with the spiciness of a tamal.

Frijoles refritos in a white bowl topped with crumbled queso fresco
Homemade Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)
These Three-Ingredients Refried Beans are all you need to complete your Mexican meals! Nothing fancy, nothing fake, just great beans from an easy recipe. 
Get the recipe!

5. Rajas Con Crema

Rajas is a great dish to pair with tamales as the creaminess texture blends so well with the flavors of the main dish.

Rajas Con Crema (Roasted Poblanos in a creamy sauce)
There’s nothing easier than these Rajas Con Crema. It’s the type of side dish you can make any night of the year, or even special occasions like holidays or get togethers. The cream sauce is silky and delicious plus it goes perfect with the roasted poblano peppers. So good!
Get the recipe!
A large oval serving plate with chiles poblanos in a creamy white sauce.

6. Champiñones A La Mexicana

These Mushrooms Mexican style are a delicious and healthy side dish. You won’t feel guilty for those extra calories found in tamales!

A plate with beans and sauteed champiñones.
Champiñones A La Mexicana Recipe
A warming dish for busy evenings, Champiñones A La Mexicana is easy to pull together. Serve with rice or beans and corn tortillas on the side! This recipe is vegetarian or vegan and gluten free.
Get the recipe!

7. Espagueti Verde

What’s not to love about Espagueti Verde? They’re delicious, easy to make and so creamy!

Espagueti Verde (Spaghetti in Poblano Sauce)
Incredible Espagueti Verde packed with flavor and made with super simple ingredients. This Green Spaghetti recipe comes together in less than 40 minutes for a delicious dish that the whole family will love!
Get the recipe!
A bowl with espagueti verde garnished with fresh cilantro.

8. Refried Black Beans

Here is another easy and healthy dish to pair tamales with. The best part? This recipe is made with canned beans! This means one less thing to worry about cooking from scratch.

A bowl of black beans with chips on the side
Easy Refried Black Beans
An easy Refried Black Beans recipe loaded with flavor and ready in less than 25 minutes! It’s incredibly simple, so you don’t need a lot of time or energy to do it, and the flavor is just so good. 
Get the recipe!

9. Mexican Sopa

Ah my beloved sopa! This classic soup goes with anything including tamales. Make these two together and you’ll be transported back to abuelita’s home.

Traditional Mexican Sopa (Sopita Recipe)
Warming and delicious, this Mexican Sopa (soup) recipe is loaded with comforting goodness and basic ingredients. It’s so flavorful and so easy to make!
Get the recipe!
A bowl of soup showing another one in the background. Accompanied with flour tortilla and a glass of water.

10. Arroz Verde

Arroz Verde is a delicious and healthy rice recipe, perfect for any meal! You’ll love the flavor combo of the poblano pepper with cilantro and spinach.

A white bowl with arroz verde garnished with cilantro and sliced peppers.
Arroz Verde (Mexican Green Rice)
This beautiful green rice goes with anything, from enchiladas, tacos and even stews. 
Get the recipe!

What sauce to eat with tamales?

All salsas and sauces are not created equal when it comes to serving with tamales. You need a chile based salsa to highlight the flavors of the masa. Here are a few of my recommendations:

11. Salsa Guajillo

This Guajillo Sauce recipe is super quick and easy to make, and full of the best smoky and slightly-spicy flavors that everyone is sure to love!

Easy Guajillo Sauce Recipe
It’s also perfect for eggs, seafood, steaks & even to make chilaquiles.
Get the recipe!
A white bowl with chile guajillo salsa and tortilla chips on the side.

12. Salsa Macha

Get ready to LOVE this magnificent infused-oil salsa. Sometimes you just need to add an extra kick to your tamales and this is perfect for that.

A clear small jar with a metal spoon and macha salsa.
Authentic Salsa Macha
Made with chile de arbol, garlic, peanuts and it is so delicious to the point of being addicting. It works well on just about anything and it lasts for a long time in your refrigerator. 
Get the recipe!

13. Chile De Arbol Salsa

An authentic Chile De Arbol Salsa that goes perfect for taco fillings, tamales and more! 

Chile De Arbol Salsa
This classic salsa is made with chiles de arbol, guajillos & tomatillos.
Get the recipe!
A molcajete with red salsa

The Drinks

14. Horchata

The milky creaminess of horchata is the perfect drink for tamales or anything made with spices.

Two glasses with metal straws and Mexican Horchata. A jar in the background
Traditional Mexican Horchata
Learn how to make the authentic Horchata drink that everyone loves! With this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll be able to make the best homemade Horchata recipe made with a few simple ingredients. Skip the store-bought mixes and use this easy recipe right at home!
Get the recipe!

15. Cebada

Here is another milky & creamy drink that brings the perfect balance for tamales.

Agua De Cebada (Barley Drink)
It’s a barley drink with a creamy, nutty, cinnamon and sweet flavor. Serve over ice and enjoy with your favorite Mexican meal. 
Get the recipe!
Three glasses with with ice and a cebada drink with a glass straw.

16. Agua De Tamarindo

Agua De Tamarindo is a must for any Mexican meal!

A single glass filled with ice and agua de tamarindo garnished with a slice of lime and a glass straw.
Agua De Tamarindo
Agua Fresca De Tamarindo, a homemade drink made with only three ingredients: tamarindo pulp, sugar and water. This is a classic drink brimming with a delicious earthy flavor!
Get the recipe!

17. Agua De Jamaica

Make a big jar of Jamaica for everyone to enjoy while eating tamales. Is a classic drink and a favorite of many Mexican kitchens.

Agua de Jamaica – only 2 ingredient Hibiscus Tea
Agua De Jamaica is a fragrant, refreshing, and beautiful Mexican drink. This Jamaica Recipe is the ultimate party drink or to enjoy with your meals at home.
Get the recipe!
Close up image of a glass with Agua De Jamaica

18. Atole De Pinole

Need a warm drink? Try Atole De Pinole!

A brown ceramic mug with Atole De Pinole and a hand dipping a churro on the drink.
Atole De Pinole
Atole De Pinole is a very popular hot drink in Mexico. It is prepared by cooking milk, cinnamon and brown sugar/piloncillo then it is thickened with corn flour (in this case Pinole) and cooked until is perfectly creamy. 
Get the recipe!

19. Champurrado

You’ll find champurrado and tamales during posadas or any Mexican holiday. Try this and you’ll know why this is the perfect combo during the cold months.

Champurrado
Champurrado Mexicano is a warm and thick drink made with masa, Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, piloncillo and milk. It’s the classic drink to have during cold & cozy nights. 
Get the recipe!
A white metal mug with Champurrado and a spoon drizzling the the drink

20. Mexican Hot Chocolate

Full of the flavors that reminds us of Mexico this will be your new favorite hot chocolate recipe!

Two clear mugs with hot chocolate and whipped cream.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Make this Mexican Hot Chocolate at home in minutes and skip the coffee shop lines and make your own!
Get the recipe!

21. Rompope

Rompope (Mexican Eggnog) Recipe
Once you have this Rompope, you'll never want the store bought kind again! It's silky, smooth and super delightful!
Get the recipe!
Two vintage glasses with rompope and christmas decorations around them.

There are so many more options so feel free to explore more Mexican recipes. We didn’t even go into desserts so don’t forget to check those out as well.

Here is my favorite way to eat leftover tamales the next day. Frying them to a crisp renders incredible flavor and texture. Then pair them with a couple of sunny side up egg (over medium for me) and you’ll have one amazing meal!

A few tamales on a blue oval plate with serving plates on the side.

What To Serve With Tamales (21 authentic recipes)

Servings 1 people
Ana Frias
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Wondering what to serve with tamales? Don’t worry – I’ve got your whole menu sorted out, with the traditional side dishes and drinks! Bonus: crispy tamales and eggs is a great way to eat leftover tamales the next day.
1 people

Ingredients  

  • 1 tamal husk removed
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Place the tamal in a preheated non stick skillet or cast iron skillet. Fry over medium to medium high heat until all sides are crispy. About 5 minutes.
  • Move the tamal to the side and lower heat. Once the skillet has cooled down a little bit, crack eggs into pan.
  • Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Cook over low heat until most of the white has set.
  • For over medium eggs, carefully flip eggs over and cook for 1 minute.
  • Remove tamal and eggs from pan and place on plate.
  • Enjoy while hot.

Muy Delish Notes:

  1. The tamales can be any kind: red, green, or sweet. Just pick your favorite ones! 
  2. There is no need to add extra oil as the tamales should release a little oil into the skillet. 
  3. Cook the eggs over low heat. If the heat is too high, the white of the egg will overcook before the yolk has a chance to cook.
  4. Use a thin spatula to slide under the tamales and eggs. 
Note on calories: only the egg calories are noted as the tamales can vary depending on your selection. 

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Nutrition

Serving: 2eggs | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 358mg | Sodium: 107mg | Potassium: 124mg | Sugar: 2g

The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Wow !!! Thank you for all these ideas !! I see a lot of recipes that I want to try when I make tamales in two weeks ?